This spring, MIT marked the centennial of its transformation from Boston outpost to Cambridge icon. The festivities culminated in May with “Moving Day,” a community parade, pageant, and floating spectacle. Attendees had occasion to note how much the face of the campus has developed and altered over the past 100 years—yet how its distinguishing features have endured. As MIT launches the Campaign for a Better World, it is preparing its campus for another century of dynamic use, and creating new spaces that will enable this community to reach the Institute’s bold goals.
One of the campus’s network of original buildings has just emerged from a renovation that makes it a fitting 21st-century headquarters for the MIT Department of Mathematics. Building 2, part of the stately “Main Group” designed by architect William Welles Bosworth 1889, reopened in January and has been renamed the Simons Building, in recognition of the generosity of James H. Simons ’58 and Marilyn Simons. Led by MIT alumna Ann Beha ’75, principal at Ann Beha Architects, the renovation aimed to restore antiquated infrastructure and create spaces that befit a modern academic enterprise. The work comprised detailed restoration of the limestone façade; reconfiguration and modernization of classrooms, offices, and collaborative spaces, such as a newly expanded Math Commons; and the addition of a fourth floor.
An essential factor in the overall reimagination of the MIT campus is the expansion of facilities that allow the community to create, build, prototype, and tinker. Prominent among these will be a state-of-the-art innovation space planned for the historic Metropolitan Warehouse. Having stood sentinel, since 1895, to the changing landscape at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street, the imposing brick landmark is now slated to become a central destination for MIT students eager to turn their bright ideas into tangible inventions.
With enrollment in MIT’s Theater Arts program booming, MIT has kicked off the transformation of a former warehouse at 345 Vassar Street that will consolidate all of the program’s currently dispersed activities under a single roof. Scheduled for completion in 2017, the new home for MIT Theater Arts (dubbed W97) will include rehearsal spaces, design and faculty studios, offices, costume and scene design shops, and dressing rooms. Its centerpiece will be a flexible two-story performance space that can be reshaped for each production, and that will accommodate a variety of uses. Along with maximizing the creative power of MIT’s theatrical activities, sustainability is a priority of the project, with the goal of achieving LEED Gold sustainability certification.
High-tech prototyping facilities are a defining feature— along with state-of-the-art clean rooms, and fertile spaces for education and collaboration—of MIT.nano, the new 200,000-square-foot center for nanoscience and nanotechnology taking shape at the heart of the campus. Scheduled for occupancy in 2018, MIT.nano will enable faculty in departments across MIT—more than 20% of the Institute’s researchers—to synthesize and manipulate molecules with breathtaking precision, and to speed their discoveries to impact in fields as wide-ranging as computing and communications, energy, health, and manufacturing.
Looking east, a plan seven years in the making breaks ground this summer in Kendall Square. Six new buildings, comprising nearly a million square feet in the midst of this burgeoning innovation hub, will rise on what are now five MIT-owned parking lots. These will include three buildings for commercial office and laboratory use, two for housing, and one for academic use. The plan also includes nearly three acres of new and repurposed open spaces, ground floor retail, and a new home for the MIT Museum. Provost Martin Schmidt SM ’83, PhD ’88 has described the project as a “unique opportunity to expand our residential community, infuse new vibrancy into Kendall Square with retail and public gathering spaces, create space for innovative research and development activities, introduce a new gateway to MIT, and create a vibrant crossroads that will connect us more closely to the Cambridge community.”